At midnight the police moved in and
began to disperse the dense French Quarter crowd. The members of that crowd
didn’t want to stop the party but reluctantly gave away, breaking into sub
crowds, then into smaller groups that gradually streamed off toward homes or
other parties. Fat Tuesday was over. Lent had begun.
As the crowds split, a cold hard
gust of wind came blowing in over them and over the Quarter. It gathered other
gusts to itself, swirled across the Faubourg Marigny and up Bourbon and Royal
streets like a desert dust devil. It carried with it black dust and a mélange of
beads and other Mardi Gras trash. It picked up the stench of sweat-soaked
people, the stale odors of alcohol, urine, vomit. Along with those scents it
gathered the thoughts and feelings of the revelers—their joys and rages, their
laughter and sobs, their lusts and sins.
And when the wind had all of that
in its grasp, it leaped upward toward the highest steeple of the St. Louis
Cathedral.The cross at the top of the steeple shook; a dirty shadow enveloped
it, then shrank down, took darkling form. For a moment it seemed that a long-armed
man clung to the steeple. Then the figure leaped down and down from the cathedral
and disappeared into the bushes and hedges of Jackson Square. The wind was gone
as if it had never been.
Labels: Mardi Gras, Writing scenes